Rainy Days and Mondays

rain-84648_1920“Always get me down.” (The Carpenters, 1971) It’s been raining a lot, for the middle of May. Yes, I know some of you have been getting snow and I certainly don’t envy that. We plan on setting up our little pool next weekend and I’m wondering if we might get frostbite. Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be stormy, just a dandy way to start the work week. Sigh.

The weather is always volatile this time of year. The planet is making its bi-annual tilt from winter to summer (or the opposite for the southern hemisphere). I realize the tilt is an ongoing shift, but the wild and wacky weather makes it seem as though it is happening within a month. I guess I could liken it to riding down the road, doing 70, in a convertible and without a hat. Mother Nature’s convertible is a little larger and she likes to get a little “showy” with the lightning strikes. Reminding us just who is in charge. I am always grateful to get through Spring without too much of a spanking.

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The rain is certainly good for the garden. I’ve discovered that I really like growing flowers. Their beauty, of course, and just the riotous colors, shapes and sizes. With each bud, a surprise lies inside and you must wait patiently for it to reveal itself to you.

IMG_20190519_132612255 (1)We added to the perennial collection this weekend. A few things didn’t make it through the winter so they needed to be replaced. We also have a dead zone towards the front so instead of trying to suffer through another round, we put in some blocks and raised the bed. Naturally, it had to be filled immediately. I found this bright, candy red, small rosebush that called to me. I haven’t grown roses in, oh probably 15 years. I guessed that little bush was what I needed. The pots and the planters always get annuals and I change them up year-to-year. I could not resist the very fascinating fuschias even though the location might be a bit sunny for them.IMG_20190519_132640740 (1)

I am always excited when the buds appear. Flowers mean I made it through the winter and hot days are ahead. I love the laziness of a hot summer day. I love floating in our little pool. Dinner outside. Cocktails with friends. It’s sort of like recovery after a surgery. It just makes me feel good.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for giving us the rain so that I can appreciate the sun.

MotherFaker

I originally posted this article on October 21, 2017 and decided to re-post it for Mother’s Day.  First, I would like to honor all those really good moms and awesome dads I frequently encounter.  Their obvious love of and devotion to their children restores my faith that parenthood is good.  Many blessings and thanks to you.

Secondly, I would like to extend my compassion to all those who have struggled with mother wounds.  Whether you continue to put yourself in the line of fire, or like me, have cut off all contact, give yourself permission to feel the pain and anger.  There is nothing wrong with you.  Your feelings are real and they matter.

Whether you are a mother, want to be one, have a good relationship with your mother or have soul wounds, the first mother is the one that you are to yourself.  Nurture and love you and let the rest be what it will be.

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Read that title twice, didn’t you?  It might be a Freudian slip. . .

maskA MotherFaker is a mother who gave birth, but only pretended to be a mother.  Many, many of us had one, a mother that just couldn’t quite give us the nurturing and love that we needed.  We grew up scarred because of it, drifting in and out of relationships, marriages, jobs, homes, friendships, whatever it was that we tried to suck a little bit of love out of.  We attracted those people and situations as a mirror of our selves.  Maybe you still struggle with this.  Maybe we will never get over that abandoned and unwanted feeling.

It is possible, if you are willing to do the work.

Everyone says to forgive.  Yes, I know that is a stupid statement and you do not feel like you can ever condone your mother’s actions.  That is not the point of forgiveness.  You only want to neutralize your feelings so you don’t leave this stuck inside of you.  Your mother was not capable of being a mother to you.  It is NOTHING about YOU.  Maybe she had difficult circumstances in her life that caused her to shut down.  Maybe she had a MotherFaker and that was all she knew.  IT WAS NOTHING ABOUT YOU.  You have to find a way to let go of holding onto the energy so you can move on with your life and live the best you possible.  Does it really benefit you to be pissed about this?  Is that ever going to change the situation?  No.  It happened.  Your mother was not capable of love, but YOU ARE.

sad childStart by loving yourself.  Nurture the little girl inside you in all the ways that you did not get.  You will be surprised how much that helps to let go of your pain.  Start simply by asking yourself what you need: am I hungry, tired, thirsty, have to pee?  Honor those needs and then you will be able to ask yourself how you feel.  Whenever you feel crabby and out-of-sorts, start there.  Children of MotherFakers always put Her needs first and denied themselves.  Stop the crazy-making train and tend to you first.  Get into that practice and you will be surprised how your life changes and how differently people treat you.

And then you no longer have to fake being happy.

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere

IMG_20190505_132400079 (1)Alcoholism is a serious and debilitating disease that engulfs the mind, body and spirit. It can contribute to any number of health issues and can result in death. From my research, alcoholism can be a coping mechanism for deep, personal issues. It is a sad waste of a beautiful human life.

There is no doubt that drinking alcohol can be fun. A summer afternoon, an evening cocktail party, wine pairings, all are fun gatherings with friends. A cold beer after yard work. A “topping off” after the completion of a project. All reasons to offer a toast. But anything in excess is unhealthy for your well-being.

When you are super stressed, it is easy to reach for a cocktail to numb your nervous system. It may be helpful for the moment, but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night just as restless and edgy as you started. Instead take a walk, or engage in some other mild form of exercise. Meditate. Read a book. Work a puzzle. The idea behind stress relief is to focus your thoughts on something that relaxes you, which will help you do actions that relax your body.

Treat alcohol as a treat, and just because it’s five o-clock somewhere doesn’t mean it needs to be five o’clock every night.

Decaffeinated

coffee-791045_1920I am trying to stick with decaf coffee. Too much of the regular stuff tends to make me anxious, not a good thing for the anxiety prone. But there are days when you need a hit of jet fuel to give you momentum.

The last several weeks have been very hectic. At work, it is budget prep season and that takes a lot of time, thought and people cooperation. I coordinate the effort for the whole department so I have to make sure everything gets done on time. In the midst of that, there have been several long drawn-out audits. They have brought to the surface some issues that the entire organization has been neglecting. I hesitate to say that, because it is not that they were intentionally neglectful just some timing issues. Along with all that, there is the usual flurry of work and month end duties. There are many things for me to remember and be responsible for. I keep a list, but sometimes my mind just runs in hyperdrive, and on occasion, I kind of lose track where I’m at. Like last Friday morning, for example.

I was tired from the week so I thought I would treat myself to a Starbucks latte. I love them so they must be consumed in a limited quantity. So long about 6:15, I was waiting in the drive-thru line. I’m zoning out, listening to the radio and waiting for some movement in the cars in front of me. Finally, I inch forward and am next to the menu board. I glance at it briefly, already knowing what I want. I am totally in the zone. Then I hear a voice “if you would like to place an order, you will need to roll down your window”.  Sigh.  Apparently, I need to lay off the decaf for awhile.

I roll down my car window. “I’m sorry”, I say with a laugh, “I guess I really need some caffeine”.

This is surely a sign that I am taking life way too seriously and need some rest. As luck would have it, I planned a day off on Monday.

I plan on drinking lots of caffeine.

Easter-ly

easter-celebration-4006113_1920Brightly painted eggs. Floppy-eared bunnies. Elaborate hats. And the historical and religious significance of Jesus Christ rising from the dead.

The Northern Hemisphere has begun its rising from the dead of winter. The planet is slowly angling itself towards the sun and warming the Earth’s crust. Brilliant yellow daffodils, multiple colors of tulips and tiny purple hyacinths have poked their heads through the melting frost and announcing that warm weather is on its way.

The turning of the Earth shakes up the sky and brings with it spring storms. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, tornadoes can all appear within the space of a single day, oftentimes leaving behind some level of destruction in their wake. Spring is symbolic of renewing the dead, just as Christ rising from the dead is symbolic of our rebirth.

The cycle of life is a miraculous one, be it a single tiny flower or a human. All things must live and die, and as I truly believe, are reborn again. The Creator loves beauty and growth and experiencing everything so why not with our spirit also? We have only to look at a tiny purple hyacinth to appreciate, study and understand that this is the course of life. To move in an “Easter-ly” direction of rebirth.

What would you do-over if you had the choice? What new flower would you grow from your stem? Would it be a tiny purple hyacinth only showing its face in the spring? A long season of blooming? Or a stately oak tree lasting a lifetime? We have choices each day of our life so why not for many lives?

Whatever that may be, know that the Creator formed you out of love simply for you to experience that love. Be kind to each other and know that whatever choices someone makes is for their growth and learning even if you don’t agree.

For each of us moves in our own “Easter-ly” direction.

A Whiter Shade of Gray

senior-3336451_1920In the last several years, there has been growing popularity in older women and men being chic, fascinating and featured in magazines. Well, why not? Older people have this “been there, done that” attitude and are going to continue doing what they want. Old does not mean slow, stupid or even about to die.

Our bodies are aging, each and every day. We know that. Yes, our brains do too, but that does not equate to being senile. We have a wealth of experiential knowledge that helps us to make quick and powerful decisions. We are no longer burdened by the “image” society has picked for us. We can sky-dive if it so pleases us. We can get married when we are in our 90s. If we want to wear florals, stripes and sequins all in the same outfit, so be it. “Insta-Grannies” are all the rage now. I won’t list them, because by now you will have seen, read or are following most of them.

Is this a fad that will slowly fade away as many of these icons pass on? A fad is something that gets worn out and loses its appeal. If we are all aging, then we are all fads. So why not be so individually cool that you never outlive your time?

active-cyclist-elderly-264073What these ultra-cool elders are really showing us is that you must keep going and growing in order to live your best life. Having your 60th birthday, or whatever age you deem to be old, is not an automatic indicator that you must now move to an assisted-living facility and wear Velcro shoes. A continually stimulated brain will spur you into stimulating your body. Walk, dance, climb, hike, swim, sky-dive, whatever challenges you want to place upon your body – just go for it. Be safe; just because you can do it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care for your body. Our muscles don’t recover as quickly as they used to, and our bones aren’t as strong as they used to be either.

barca-473854_1920Are you a widower and think that because your spouse of 50 years is gone, you should just sit alone in your tiny new apartment? Au contraire, my friend. Loneliness will kill you faster than your one martini with dinner. Why not a companion to share that martini with? There is no social demand that you be married. Living in sin, if you call it that, is far more fun than withering away by yourself.

Many seniors become entrepreneurs. Done with the working-for-someone-else world, many active adults start new businesses built upon hobbies or passions. We have a lifetime of skills and workplace savvy to make it lucrative.

How about a little Botox, sculpting, or other cosmetic enhancements? False eyelashes and eyeliner aren’t just for the 20-something set. Whatever you choose to make yourself look and feel better should be just to make yourself feel better, and not about what anyone else says.

old-2742052_1920Growing older isn’t an easy thing. The changes in your body can be very frustrating. The lapses in memory are annoying. Don’t let them overwhelm you. Be kind and loving to yourself. Use them as opportunities to slow down and savor the moments of each day. You now have time to do all the fun things you put off while you were working and raising children.

You might even have time to go sky-diving with your grandkids while wearing your new purple-sequinned jumpsuit.

The Mating Game

butterfly-743549_1920Spring is teasing us with 70 degree days. Pasty white skin is showing beneath shorts wrinkled from winter storage. Straw hats and sunshades are getting dusted off. We’ll need those polarized specs to ward off the glare from the snow that will still make itself known before the earth heats up.

Spring brings flowers and flowers get crafted into beautiful wedding bouquets as young couples tie the knot in a ritual as old as Spring. Love, hope and promises swell the heart as they shout out their vows. Then begins the ritual of learning how to live together in peace and cooperation.

Statistics being what they are state that not every couple stays together. Sometimes it is big issues, those red-flags that were ignored in the heat of desire. A person will tell you everything you need to know when you first meet them so pay attention. When you are older and the sexual part of your relationship is in the waning stage, then you want to be best friends with your spouse. Too many good relationships end over power struggles that can be prevented.

Most couples fight over responsibilities and money. I have found some solutions to these issues that have worked well. First of all, share responsibilities. If one of you works outside of the home and the other in the home, SHARE responsibilities. It is very easy to have the homebound person take on most of the duties, but they are working too. Taking care of a home and children IS work. If one of you is a better cook, then the other can do the cleanup. Most resentments revolve around one person feeling that they have the bulk of responsibilities, usually housework. ASK for help when you need it, don’t expect that the other person can read your mind or will just pitch in. Ladies, this will help you avoid getting mad so ASK him.

In terms of money, the best way to avoid most fights is to have different bank accounts. Have a joint account that pays for housing and its upkeep, food, travel or any other thing that is shared. Put in an equal amount, even if you earn unequally. For example, if you both put in 80% of your income, then it is fair and equitable even if one of you makes $5,000 a month and the other $8,000 a month. The person with the higher income will put in more, but at still the same percent. Then you each need a separate personal account for discretionary money. You will have money you can spend for things you enjoy without harming either your living costs or having to justify to the other person. Just remember, do no harm. So if one of you smokes, then you aren’t using shared money to purchase them. The non-smoker doesn’t get to judge the spending either. Although I don’t recommend smoking as a spending habit. But before any expenses, be sure to save a portion of your income each month. You will want to retire someday and, trust me, you will be glad you did.

Your mating dance can last a lifetime. Patience, acceptance, cooperation and lots of laughing go a long way. And the occasional disco twirl on a warm spring day.

Bird Dance Beat

pigeon-2332702_1920Boppa-oo-mao-mao. If you are familiar with 60s music, then you know that line from “Bird Dance Beat” released as a single in 1964 by The Trashmen. My aunts had the 45 record and I loved dancing to that iconic tune.

The song has filled my head as I watch the annual spring mating dance of birds. Sunday morning we ate breakfast at a retro diner downtown. We were seated in a booth next to large windows. There were juniper bushes next to the building, but trimmed back so they created somewhat of a shelter for some sparrows. I kept noticing a bird fly back and forth and another preening on a branch of the bush. The flying bird finally landed on the branch and then I realized that the mating dance was on. The little girl bird had her back turned, but coyly looking over her shoulder to see the display. The boy was turning on the charm, white chest puffed out, head bobbing and wings flipping up and down. [I think he could have been dancing to “Bird Dance Beat”.] Girl bird didn’t seem too impressed so he flew off. She turned back around and proceeded to clean her feathers.

Before long, the male returned with a twig in his beak as though to demonstrate “hey baby, I will build you a house”. That must have won the date, because they flew off together into bird love land. Or so I assume.

Spring is a glorious time to remind us of the continuation of all species. Birds dancing, cats meowing, squirrels winding themselves around tree trunks, and humans stripping down to summer clothes. Biology demands that all creatures seek out the prime specimens to perpetuate the herd. Creatures do what they do, but humans have a choice and so they should as we have a much greater life span than many creatures. Many of our non-human creatures won’t make it past the hour of their birth. That is a sad thought, but might be why they continually reproduce without thought.

Or maybe it is just because they want to “bop to the bird dance beat”. Boppa-oo-mao-mao.

Tour of Duty

soldier-996536_1920A tour of duty is generally related to a military or diplomatic time of service. Since I work for a local government, I also consider this a tour of duty. My tour is coming to an end. I expect to retire at the beginning of the year. I will have dedicated 18+ years to public service, but it is time to begin service to myself.

I am approaching my upcoming change with excitement, knowing that all I anticipate can fluctuate from moment to moment. I have no expectations of any given thing, just the intent of learning what makes me tick. I have worked since I was a small child, first on a family farm, and then many different private and public organizations. I most always put the needs of others before my own. This seems typical of most women I know, we’re just wired to care for others first. It is only when we get into maturity, the “menopause” years, that we begin to steam with the need to define ourselves. Hot flashes are more than just physical.

The desires, wishes and creative thoughts that have long been nudged aside to carry out our self-proclaimed duty are boiling up and demanding to be released like the steam in a kettle. We see outward expressions of purple hair and riotous clothing. We see grey-haired rock guitarists, intrepid globetrotters and small business startups. An army of blue hairs slowly taking over the world.

Our tour of duty is being passed on to our children. They are being asked to take up the reins and lead the world into a peaceful existence. We have fought the wars and fought for our rights and new-found social freedoms. We ask that our children continue this quest for a better world.

And we’ll throw a helluva homecoming parade for their every victory. We’ll even provide the band.

Puzzled

puzzle1I love jigsaw puzzles and have since I was a small child. My great-grandmother started it with a 500-piece beauty. I got so good at them, that I figured out she had three all from the same jig. I put them together one on top of the other, matching the pieces. These days I can do a 300 piece in an hour. Not bragging, just my enjoyment of the challenge.

Puzzles are a great brain stimulator. They are also good for relaxation and to help you focus. I use them as therapy when I’m stressed.

puzzle2Jigsaw puzzles and their cousins, crossword and sudoku are great tools for stress or boredom. I think boredom is just stress turned outward. Both involve some mental obsession with an overlay of rapidly random thoughts. Your mind keeps churning over and over, but you can’t find a solution. A puzzle of some sort helps you to focus your thoughts on each individual item. You are searching for a particular piece, be it shape or color, and your mind begins to zero in on that which you seek. If you allow those random stressful or bored thoughts to just whirl around in your head, they will begin to form shapes not unlike the puzzle pieces. Soon they will formulate into clues to your issue.

By giving your monkey brain something to do, you turn your subconscious or Higher Self over to the Universe to receive solutions. Not to mention, how quickly you can put that puzzle together.